British Horseracing statement on the 48th Levy Scheme
Commenting on the agreement on 31st October of the 48th Levy Scheme, British Horseracing Authority Chairman Paul Roy said:
“Since July we have been saying that the 48th Scheme had to see a continuation of the 10% Levy rate, with no set-offs or rebates, but only on the basis that the vitally important Ministerial Review work and Levy modernisation was concluded, within real deadlines and under a structured, transparent and professional process with independent input. That is how Racing’s major value issues would be resolved, through a proper, professional process.
“The new scheme agreed through the Levy Board on Friday night will see the headline rate of 10% of gross profits continue. The Bookmakers’ Committee demand for a specific set-off or rebate for costs has been rejected.
“Most importantly, the Levy Board have set out a new clear process to deliver on the Review and modernisation work – this is a massive move forward on top of real progress in recent weeks. As is well known, the Levy Board appointed experienced sports arbitrator Sir Philip Otton to assist them. He has already undertaken a great deal of valuable work. We welcome the decision of the Levy Board to ask Sir Philip to conclude his report, and to report to them as part of the Ministerial Review process. Racing and the British Horseracing Authority will of course cooperate fully with Sir Philip, and provide any further evidence that is requested.
“The Levy Board has already made significant recommendations for action to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, on modernising the Levy process, as well as, very importantly, the proper return from betting on exchanges and bets through offshore operators. With Sir Philip’s input, the Levy Board will also be addressing the remaining issues that are of key importance to us – Levy on overseas racing in British shops, virtual racing, and other issues including in particular FOBTs – and which form a major part of our continuing case that the return to Racing should be considerably more, reflecting the real value of our product. We are confident that a modernised Levy and relationship between Racing and Betting will deliver this. Events and developments in recent weeks have only strengthened this.
“During the discussions about the 48th Scheme, the Bookmakers’ Committee made detailed requests for British Racing content at particular times which they identified as a priority for them. This emphasised very openly and directly the importance and value to betting of British Racing – there can be no doubt about this, and it is the very point that underpins our Levy case. We had to consider this request very seriously, particularly in the light of the current unique economic circumstances. We had, after all, been asking for open dialogue about these issues for a considerable time. Our entire approach is to work collaboratively with betting, but always on the basis that the value of our product is recognised and we receive the right return. That is what we will address in the next phase of the review and modernisation work. It was not the time for Racing to close our minds to the request from betting.
“We had constructive good faith discussions about detailed fixture issues building up to Friday’s announcement, that now need to be taken on in that same approach between Racing, Bookmakers and the Levy Board. The Levy Board has confirmed that any additional races have to be self-financing, with zero impact and no dilution to existing fixtures.
“The Bookmakers’ Committee requested as a priority the reintroduction of British Sunday fixtures where, for compelling reasons, we had decided not to stage them. It has been acknowledged that these will have to be very attractive fixtures, to overcome the considerable barriers, and will likely require additional support from outside the Levy, with Bookmakers committing to support this where necessary. Subject to this, these will be reinstated, a decision we have made in consultation with the Horsemen, for whom this is a very important issue.
“We also agreed with the Levy Board and betting that we will look together at the detail of putting on additional races on existing cards at another time when we are being told by the Bookmakers that British Racing product is a priority for their businesses, the 26 Mondays and Tuesdays between June and August when there are currently only two fixtures. This could be up to 104 additional races. There are issues here, as everyone understands, not least horse population and the wider appetite for these extra races. Depending on how that progresses, we may look at adding a number of races to existing cards in twilight times of the year.
“We have once again been working on this issue as a Racing team – speaking with one voice. My colleagues on the Levy Board, David Thorpe and Paul Dixon, and our respective executives, Nic Coward, Stephen Atkin and Michael Harris, have played a huge role in this process.”
For further information, please contact Will Lambe, Head of External Affairs, on 020 7152 0028 or 07816 914409.